I’ll be co-hosting Femathon in March; come join in! Some of these books I’ll be talking about I have read, and some of them are on my TBR. If you check out the other Femathon recommendations I’ve made for this series (some of which have yet to be published on this blog when this post goes live – if you want a sneak preview check out my Instagram @thebookishsock) you’ll see several other books that could be part of this list as well.
When I was looking up classics recommendations this is one of the books that came up. If you’re not Black and want to reference Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson by voice I’d recommend substituting the word homie – since that’s a queue Danez Smith uses in their poetry book (where they then tell you the true name of the book is actually something else, but they’d prefer non-Black people to use homie instead; also if you’re looking for some non-binary poetry totally check them out). Alternatively, you could just say, “Our blank or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black“. Aside from the BIPOC prompt, this could also count as a Classic, Platonic Fem Relationship, and possibly Fem Fights Back – I’m a little fuzzy on this one since I haven’t read it yet.
Our Nig is the tale of a mixed-race girl, Frado, abandoned by her white mother after the death of the child’s black father. Frado becomes the servant of the Bellmonts, a lower-middle-class white family in the free North, while slavery is still legal in the South, and suffers numerous abuses in their household. Frado’s story is a tragic one; having left the Bellmonts, she eventually marries a black fugitive slave, who later abandons her.– Goodreads Book Blurb
American Indian Stories by Zitkála-Šá is another book I found while looking for classics suggestions. This could also count for Fems Fight Back and possibly Non Fiction since there are childhood stories included – all for a possible total of 4 or 5 prompts if you want to also count Wildcard in.
American Indian Stories, first published in 1921, is a collection of childhood stories, allegorical fiction, and an essay, including several of Zitkála-Šá’s articles that were originally published in Harper’s Monthly and Atlantic Monthly.– Goodreads Book Blurb
One of the most famous Sioux writers and activists of the modern era, Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin) recalled legends and tales from oral tradition and used experiences from her life and community to educate others about the Yankton Sioux. Determined, controversial, and visionary, she creatively worked to bridge the gap between her own culture and mainstream American society and advocated for Native rights on a national level. Susan Rose Dominguez provides a new introduction to this edition.
Written in 1929 at the height of the Harlem Renaissance by one of the movement’s most important and prolific authors, Plum Bun is the story of Angela Murray, a young black girl who discovers she can pass for white. After the death of her parents, Angela moves to New York to escape the racism she believes is her only obstacle to opportunity. What she soon discovers is that being a woman has its own burdens that don’t fade with the color of one’s skin, and that love and marriage might not offer her salvation.– Goodreads Book Blurb
I thought you might be getting tired of me saying this is another book I found while searching for classics recommendations, so for the rest of this post if I’m not directly saying otherwise right away it’s probably safe to say I haven’t read it yet. Plum Bun could also count as Classics, and Fem Fights Back.
First published to critical acclaim in 1929, Passing firmly established Nella Larsen’s prominence among women writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
Irene Redfield, the novel’s protagonist, is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem’s elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch. Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming—tells Irene how, after her father’s death, she left behind the black neighborhood of her adolescence and began passing for white, hiding her true identity from everyone, including her racist husband. As Clare begins inserting herself into Irene’s life, Irene is thrown into a panic, terrified of the consequences of Clare’s dangerous behavior. And when Clare witnesses the vibrancy and energy of the community she left behind, her burning desire to come back threatens to shatter her careful deception.-Goodreads Book Blurb
Passing could also count in Classic and Platonic Fem Relationship, and possibly Fems Fight Back if you take into account when this was originally published.
Married as a child bride to a tenant farmer she never met, Rukmani works side by side in the field with her husband to wrest a living from a land ravaged by droughts, monsoons, and insects. With remarkable fortitude and courage, she meets changing times and fights poverty and disaster.– Goodreads Book Blurb
This beautiful and eloquent story tells of a simple peasant woman in a primitive village in India whose whole life is a gallant and persistent battle to care for those she loves—an unforgettable novel that “will wring your heart out” (The Associated Press).
Named Notable Book of 1955 by the American Library Association.
You could also count this in Classic, and Fems Fight Back.
This is my favorite book by Elizabeth Acevedo so far (also any of her other books could be on this list too). This is a YA contemporary written rather like a memoir about a young, single mother in high school trying to make ends meet while pursuing her goals of becoming a professional chef. I happen to have this in the hardback edition and it is GORGEOUS with and without the dust jacket. Did I mention that there’s a sassy recipe at the beginning of some of the chapters? This could also count towards Fem Positive, Platonic Fem Relationship, and Fem Fights Back.
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.– Goodreads Book Blurb
I know this book is SUPER popular, and you might be tired of seeing it, but there’s a reason it’s really popular. This is another YA contemporary that covers some incredibly complex topics while feeling somewhat like a memoir. This could also count as Fem Positive and Fem Fights Back.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I’ve read some of Ida B. Wells’ work before, but I don’t think I’ve read this version of her collected works, The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader. If you don’t know who Ida B. Wells is, you NEED to. I feel like most people know about Rosa Parks but not Ida Wells, and you really need to know about both of them. This could also count in Classics, Non Fiction, Fems Fight Back, and possibly Fem Positive (it’s been a while and my brain is rusty).
Seventy-one years before Rosa Parks’s courageous act of resistance, police dragged a young black journalist named Ida B. Wells off a train for refusing to give up her seat. The experience shaped Wells’s career, and—when hate crimes touched her life personally—she mounted what was to become her life’s work: an anti-lynching crusade that captured international attention.– Goodreads Book Blurb
This volume covers the entire scope of Wells’s remarkable career, collecting her early writings, articles exposing the horrors of lynching, essays from her travels abroad, and her later journalism. The Light of Truth is both an invaluable resource for study and a testament to Wells’s long career as a civil rights activist.
As you might have already guessed, this could also count in Classics. I’m not sure what other categories this may count in, but it’s definitely on my TBR now.
Mrs. Spring Fragrance was a popular short story collection by Sui Sin Far, pen name of Chinese-British-Canadian-American writer Edith Maude Eaton. The work is notable for being “the earliest book of fiction published in the United States by an author of mixed Chinese and white descent.” Although the stories in the collection were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they were not compiled into a single book until 1912. The original publisher was A. C. McClurg and Company of Chicago. A new scholarly edition of the book, based on the McClurg edition, was released in October 2011 by Broadview Press.– Wikipedia (because all of the other synopses on Goodreads I found kinda suck)
The stories are divided into two halves, “Mrs. Spring Fragrance” for adults, and “Tales of Chinese Children” for children. Set in Seattle and San Francisco, they reflect the struggles and joys in the daily lives of Chinese families in North America. Particularly poignant are the stories delineating the cultural conflicts of Eurasians and recent immigrants. In “In the Land of the Free”, Eaton shows the suffering inflicted by discriminatory immigration laws.
These next two recommendations I found out about after watching this Ink and Paper Blog Video. This could also count in Classic, Platonic Fem Relationship, Fems Fight Back, and possibly Fem Positive. This is another book on my TBR.
The Street tells the poignant, often heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to raise her son amid the violence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1946 and hailed by critics as a masterwork, The Street was Ann Petry’s first novel, a beloved bestseller with more than a million copies in print. Its haunting tale still resonates today.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Check out that video link I left earlier to Ink and Paper Blog’s video for his synopsis since he’s read them and I haven’t. All I know is this also counts in Fem Positive, Fems Fight Back, and possibly more.
Two warring factions in the Department of Elevator Inspectors in a bustling metropolis vie for dominance: the Empiricists, who go by the book and rigorously check every structural and mechanical detail, and the Intuitionists, whose observational methods involve meditation and instinct.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Lila Mae Watson, the city’s first black female inspector and a devout Intuitionist with the highest accuracy rate in the department, is at the center of the turmoil. An elevator in a new municipal building has crashed on Lila Mae’s watch, fanning the flames of the Empiticist-Intuitionist feud and compelling Lila Mae to go underground to investigate. As she endeavors to clear her name, she becomes entangled in a web of intrigue that leads her to a secret that will change her life forever.
Let me know what BIPOC Rep books you’d recommend; what will you be reading? Do any of these sound like something you’d like to pick up?